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Top marks also go to Theo James for pulling in a perfectly underplayed performance as Tris' stoic yet compassionate love interest. His character goes by the name Four. It's not his hat size or his favourite colour. If you haven't read the book, the movie eventually explains why he goes by the name Four. And yes, he's stoic and compassionate. And, like Tris, hides a dangerous secret. James' character could have easily become flat and ridiculous in lesser hands merely reliant on screen presence. Keep Theo James on your radar, it'll be interesting to see how his promising career progresses. Unfortunately, by design or disinterest, many of the supporting actors here seem like they're just collecting a paycheque filling space. For instance, Kate Winslet brings 20 years of movie acting experience earning her a handful of Academy Award nominations and an Oscar win, but that's barely evident in the embarrassingly lame stock baddie she portrays here. The fresher new faces seem far hungrier, frankly. Hopefully Winslet shows up if her character returns in Insurgent, the big screen sequel slated for release in 2015.

The other strange aspect of this movie is that Chicago is still in ruins. A huge wall surrounds the city for protection against whatever dangers lay beyond, but its canal lays dry and its skyscrapers stand punctured and shattered by a world war that ended 100 years earlier. No fraction of a faction wanted to rebuild? It's never explained. It's also fairly confusing how Tris and Four end up spending so much time together without suspicious eyebrows popping up at some point. I thought those moments of mutually budding stimulation were part of another simulation, until I realized careless editing was to blame. The other flawed aspect left unexplained is how this effort with a reported $85 million budget ended up looking like a shoe string-funded amateur production by the second act onward. Did the director simply run out of ideas, or did he just go home early? The camera work during most of the final scenes seems especially stuck on auto-pilot. Visually, it's brutally lazy.

Despite its varied flaws, Divergent is definitely an enjoyably subversive sci-fi actioner that's well worth a cheap seat screening for Woodley's wonderfully layered leading performance opposite James' effortlessly convincing energy. Slightly intense for pre-teens, it's a good start with the clear promise of better things to come. Reviewed 03/14, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca.

Divergent is rated PG by the Ontario Film Review Board, citing occasional use of words such as darn, damn, hell, limited use of slurs, scenes that may cause a child brief anxiety, or fear, embracing and kissing, and restrained portrayals of non-graphic violence, and is rated G by la Régie du Cinéma in Québec.

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Website: http://divergentthemovie.com/
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Plus: http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.ca/

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